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Design Clinic Program

David Avalos Violante

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David Avalos Violante, Class of 2022,
Mechanical Engineering

About Me

I graduated from high school in 2011 and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After separating from the service I was unsure about my next steps. My father did not have the chance to go to college in the U.S. so I thought that I owed it to him to do what he couldn't. After earning my associate's degree at CNM, I was admitted into UNM's engineering program. I stayed in the program for two semesters before I started looking for something different.

Why I chose NMT

I wasn't able to find any professors at UNM that I could work with and didn't see myself working for any of the labs that were offered. The problem worsened when the pandemic hit. When all my classes and labs were moved online, I started to apply to other universities.

During my search, NMT stuck out because of its high rating and history of graduating high-quality engineers. With more research I discovered that because of its small size, NMT was still able to hold in-person classes and labs. In the end, it was NMT's reputation and its ability to maintain its educational and research environment during the pandemic that persuaded me to apply. Choosing to attend NMT was the best decision I could have made.

About my Project

Design clinic is a two-year opportunity to be a part of a project that introduces you to a work environment similar to one you will encounter after graduation. I am captivated by the engineering marvels that encompass all aspects of rocket engineering and so I decided to join the rocket team.

After my first semester on the team, I became the propulsion team lead and was assigned to research and manufacture a solid rocket propellant motor for use in the Spaceport America Cup 2022 Competition. This semester I am tasked with producing a solid rocket motor that will propel our flight vehicle to attain velocities that are two times the speed of sound.
I graduate in December and have decided to continue at NMT and pursue a master'sin explosives engineering. I will use the knowledge and experience I gained in my design clinic project to further research solid propellants with Dr. Michael Hargather's research lab, Shock and Gas Dynamics Laboratory.

Why Support for Undergraduate Research is Important

Support for undergraduate research is crucial and very much needed. Undergraduate research allows students to implement the tools they learn in class into real-life applications in a way that coursework alone does not, resulting in a more job-ready graduate with real experience. Professors, advisors, and anyone who's ever been an undergraduate in an engineering program should push undergraduates to pursue this challenge.